Being towed isn’t an image that blasts enthusiasm among fans when talking of F1. But we know that Daniel Ricciardo is known for refreshing the communications from drivers to press.
Renault started the home weekend with a new branded Spec B engine available only for the Australian: teammate Hulkenberg needed to avoid the penalty, using so the old PU for the weekend.
Friday started with good sensations: 9th as the best lap time performance:
Today was positive, although maybe the timesheets don’t reflect how the car actually felt. Across all our runs today, the car seemed good. Our Soft tyre run in qualifying trim was slightly tricky, especially with high track temperatures and maybe we missed out a little there. It didn’t feel that far off, and I’m certainly optimistic for tomorrow. The upgrades seemed positive and we have some data to go through to find further improvements
An 8th place on the single lap was the proof of the good moment Enstone team is living:
I’m content with eighth place today; we kept up our recent run of Q3 appearances. I felt there wasn’t much more lap time left out there and eighth was probably the maximum. I made a mistake on the first Q2 run, so I aborted that and then put the Medium tyre on. It was a risk as it was the first time we had run it all weekend. But clearly the team knew it was going to pay off as I managed a good lap to get through to Q3. The grid tomorrow is interesting with more or less everyone starting on the Mediums. I’ll target the cars ahead and aim for a good race. In Q2 I made a mistake on the first run. I had a few moments, had to abort my first run in Q2 and then [my engineers] were like ‘we’re putting the medium on
Starting the race on a set of Medium, Daniel open his strategy to a hunt of the two McLaren:
I hadn’t used that tyre at all this weekend, but obviously they knew something I didn’t, so I just had to put that in there, and that was a good lap, that got me in Q3, and I think eighth was where we were at. We’re all on mediums, the top eight, so it will be interesting. If McLaren have the race pace that they have one lap, they could target a few of the guys in front. I’ll obviously target them, but maybe they can just tow me towards the front with them and [we’ll] have a good race
At the Sunday start things got worse from the early phase: passed by Giovinazzi and Gasly, the Aussie ended the first lap right on the cusp of 10th position. Five laps later he had reason of the Italian Alfa Romeo driver at chicane before Signes turn and going for the French; on track overtake wasn’t available, so the yellow-black squad decided for an undercut at lap 17th, moving on the Hard Pirelli compound: the operation was completed two laps later with a DRS move on Red Bull #10 car. Climbing up there was the other local idol, Romain Grosjean, who gave fierce battle ten laps later: at the chicane the Haas driver didn’t gave up so quickly, trying a last stand. A drinking system problem did not prevent him from getting Kvyat behind; but the drama was coming on the very last lap. With Raikkonen defending from Hulkenberg behind him and with Norris fighting against the hydraulic system, fireworks were waiting to be shot at the Mistral chicane: the quickest positions swap as the wind’s name went on screen; Ricciardo wide after passed the Briton; Raikkonen gaining his position before the revenant Australian reclaimed his 7th position. More drama was added, as stewards decided to put #3 car under investigation for not respecting track limits and for unsafely re-joining the track: five seconds for each infringement, an 11th place as aperitif:
It’s clearly disappointing to drop outside the points with a post-race penalty, especially at the team’s home race. The last lap was a lot of fun, we had a fight and I enjoyed it. I’d rather give it a go than not try at all, and I’m sure the French fans and the people at home liked watching. It’s a shame to be penalised for it, but we’ll aim to move on from that as quickly as possible. In terms of the race, I feel like I missed out a little bit at the start, especially after a really good launch off the line. I braked too early for turn one and that was too conservative looking back. That made the rest of the race hard work, but we kept it clean and smooth from there. There are still a lot of positives to take and we’ll be looking for an immediate response in Austria
They will have been again points; it will has been again a top 10 result; and it will has been again ahead of teammate, hardly going through the Alfa of Raikkonen: Daniel, ever thought of opening a towing service? There’s a Renault broken down out there. A la bastille!